is a vital piece of Transylvania County’s economy. Farms, large and small, have played a major
role in the development of the county.
Agriculture statistics for Transylvania County are available through the
University of Virginia,
Geospatial and Statistical Data Center’s Historical Census Browser at mapserver.lib.virginia.edu
information includes the number of farms, total acreage of farmland, average
size and number of farms within size ranges.
The total value of farms in the county, as well as building, crop,
livestock and machinery values are provided.
While these statistics are general and do not provide information on
individual farmers they do offer a picture of local agricultural practices.
From 1870 through
the early 1900 the number of farms in the county steadily increased. The numbers then declined until after the
Great Depression when the total number of farms peaked at 1165 in 1940. Although there are some large farms in
Transylvania County the majority have always been relatively small. By 1940 over 85% were under 100 acres.
|The Dave Holiday barn, in the Blantyre area, is typical to
early 1900’s Transylvania County farms.
Transylvania County Architectural Survey was taken in the early 1990s
approximately 80 farms with barns and other outbuildings where included. The barns, themselves, offer insight into
farms and agricultural practices.
Most of the
Transylvania’s barns are modest in size, constructed of wood and served
multiple purposes. A common style of
barns included a central pull-through, with animal stalls and storage areas for
grain and tools on either side. There
was often an attached, open lean-to for storage of larger machinery.
|The rustic James Owen barn.|
It can be
difficult to date farm buildings because they are often expanded and modified
as needs change. Often a new barn is
built on the foundation of an older barn that fell into disrepair. This is the case with the barn at the
Allison-Deaver House which dates from the early 1900s but contains elements
that are much older.
James Marion Owen moved to the Tanassee Gap area in the county’s Gloucester
section. He built a barn of chestnut,
poplar and locust logs. It had three
pens on one side and an open area on the other.
The rough-sawn lumber roof had hand-split wood shingles.
|The original Blythe barn (on the right end) was expanded
into a larger structure by W. T. Whitmire.
The barn at
the Blythe-Whitmire Farm in Penrose is a good example of a typical frame barn
that was expanded. Originally built by
Clyde Blythe, a large side addition was added by W. T. Whitmire after he
purchased the farm in 1935. The addition, constructed
of wood-frame and fieldstone, extends into the bank and has a row of short
windows beneath the eaves of the metal roof.
Next week Picturing the Past will take a look at
the role of other structures typical to Transylvania farms.
information for this column are provided by the Rowell Bosse North Carolina
Room, Transylvania County Library. Visit
the NC Room during regular library hours (Monday-Friday) to learn more about
our history and see additional photographs.
For more information, comments or suggestions contact Marcy at [email protected] or